Remembering Life On A Wheat Farm

Remembering Life On A Wheat Farm
As a child, I spent most of every August riding in the wheat truck with my Dad. It’s difficult to describe those summers and how my life was impacted by those yellow kernels. Wheat Harvest Usually, I rode in the full back of the truck, with my bare toes and legs buried in the wheat, while he drove the truck from the field to the grain bins. He would back the truck to a hopper, and once in position, he used the truck’s hydraulic system to lift the bed of the truck, allowing the wheat to flow through a small opening into the hopper.  An auger would pull the wheat from the hopper up a long metal tube into the top of the grain bin. Dad would stand and watch as the wheat disappeared up the tube, adjusting the hydraulic lift and the opening so the flow of … Read More

Where to Find Gardening Information

Where to Find Gardening Information
A common quotation in the gardening community is “The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.” And that is right on target. As soon as you think you have a good handle on how to grow vegetables and ornamentals, someone comes along with a plant you’ve never heard of or a problem you have never encountered.  I just continue to try to learn as much as I can about each phase of gardening that piques my interest. There are so many options in plant material and design that no one could ever know it all. And it’s fun to constantly have a work in progress at home.   I love to try new plants in my yard and learn firsthand how they perform. I have my favorites and those that I overwinter, and certain annuals that I purchase each year or grow from seed.  Where to... Read More

If You Could Be Any Succulent, What Would You Be

If You Could Be Any Succulent, What Would You Be
Is the sweetheart succulent actually a succulent? Maybe, maybe not, which is one of its attractions if I am picking a succulent to become. I admire mystery and ambiguity but also would like an eye-catching allure. The Hoya kerrii – with its puffy green leaves — fits the bill. Shifting Sands in San Francisco The first time I lived in the City by the Bay, I was a busy attorney with a brown thumb. I bought fancy houseplants, failed to take care of them and lamented my bad plant karma when they ended up crisp or rotting. But then came my years on a mountainside in France, when my true born-on-Earth-Day-self emerged. Heading back to San Francisco to get my MFA in fiction some years later, I found an apartment far from downtown. The City had become wildly popular thanks to Google, Facebook and Salesforce, and reasonable rent was hard... Read More

If You Could Be Any Succulent, Which Would You Be?

If You Could Be Any Succulent, Which Would You Be?
Recently, while speaking with the Gardening Know How editor, I was presented a rather peculiar question. ‘If you could be any succulent, which would you be?’ she asked. I’ll admit, at first, I was puzzled. I had never taken the time to imagine ever needing to describe myself as a type of plant. However, after some thought I knew which I would select.  Over the years, I have consistently added many varieties of succulents to my garden. From sedums to sempervivums, growing different cultivars of these cold hardy plants has quickly become one of my favorite ways to fill difficult to grow garden spaces that are in desperate need of ground cover. However, there is one group of succulent plants which I have always struggled to grow – cacti.  Often, the difference between cacti and succulents can lead to confusion. The term “succulent” refers to plants which are able to... Read More

Easy-Care Succulents Thrive In Drought

Easy-Care Succulents Thrive In Drought
Roses are your royalty, and you’ll likely be catering to their every whim. Perennial shrubs are your worker bees, with plants like hydrangeas and geraniums doing double duty as hedges and ornamentals if necessary. But what about succulents? Here in the sandy soil of western San Francisco, succulents are your friends. Easy-Care Succulents Think about your best friends for a moment. They don’t demand much from you when you’re busy, but are right there for you when you need them. They are easily pleased, hard to offend, and know how to be happy all on their own. Voila the succulent. Easy-care succulents like jade plants, sedum or aloe vera are the backyard garden ornamentals that I like the best. They grow happily in my sandy soil (and any other well-draining dirt), require little attention, thrive in full sun or part sun, and fly right through our California droughts, using … Read More

Exploring Succulent Plants in the Landscape

Exploring Succulent Plants in the Landscape
It’s certainly no secret that I am the worst when it comes to growing plants indoors. Despite my best efforts, even “easy to grow” plants fail to thrive under my care. Within months of purchase, I most often watch with despair as my houseplants slowly begin to yellow and wilt. Even still, I could not be discouraged from trying again. It wasn’t until I began growing various types of succulent plants that I first had success with growing indoors. Adding new succulents to my collection of plants, both indoors and outdoors, would soon be an exciting project.  Over the years, several ornamental potted plants have passed through my home. When I first started gardening, growing plants indoors was a relaxing hobby that was easily managed. As my outdoor growing space expanded, I soon found that I no longer had the time (or room) to devote to maintaining these houseplants. While... Read More

What Are The Best Succulents For Houseplants

What Are The Best Succulents For Houseplants
I love succulents. They’re so unique in the plant world; they require minimal care and they remind me of warm, sunny days. Unfortunately, I have had to sacrifice many houseplants in order to enjoy having cats in the house. But I can still share with you my all-time favorite succulents to grow inside.  Why Grow Succulents?  If you live in a climate that does not support succulents, an indoor container garden can really cheer up a chilly winter. This is one of the main reasons I love succulents and used to grow them as houseplants. I love the desert, but I don’t live there. Cactuses and other succulents remind me of my favorite climate.  For a houseplant that’s low-maintenance and nearly foolproof, it’s hard to beat a succulent. And, there are few other plant types with such interesting and diverse appearances. These cheerful plants, from big to small, will brighten... Read More

Growing And Spacing Seeds For The First Time

Growing And Spacing Seeds For The First Time
If I squeeze my eyes shut and think way, way back to when I was a little girl, I can remember the very first time I witnessed the wonder of a seed turning into a plant. I was at my grandmother’s house and she was planting the first early spring crops.  A Memory of Planting Seeds I remember she had raked the bed smooth and then made a groove in the soil. My sister and I must have been about four years old, too young to “help” in the garden much, but that day she let us plant the seeds.  What I don’t remember is what we planted, probably radishes and the like since they were being direct sown in the spring. What I do remember is how small the seeds were even in our tiny hands.  Grandma carefully instructed us to plant a single seed every so often in... Read More

A Thoughtful Surprise for Flower Gardeners

A Thoughtful Surprise for Flower Gardeners
For many flower growers, the garden would not be complete without the addition of dahlia plants. Ranging in size, shape, and form there truly are varieties of dahlias which fit well into almost any garden design. Known for their use as cut flowers, dahlia blooms dazzle growers with their fantastic color late into the growing season. Frequently, I am asked about saving and propagating these beautiful plants by seed. It is for this reason that I began collecting and giving the seeds to my friends and family.  It is not uncommon to see dahlia tubers for sale in early spring and summer at garden centers and home improvement stores. More serious collectors may even find themselves buying unique and hard to find cultivars online. These tubers can be planted into flower beds after all chances of frost have passed. Dahlias that have been grown from tubers will produce plants with... Read More